If you thought Naples didn’t have a lot to offer in the way of contemporary art, it’s time to think again – and take a walk in the company of our professional guide. The place is actually in a state of artistic fermentation second to none in Europe, with the public sector amazingly leading the way.

In Naples, you see, the underground art scene is an expression with a quite literal meaning. Something like 15 Subway stations are stazioni d’arte: not daubed with the gothic fantasies of perennially dissatisfied youth but designed by archistars (among whom Dominique Perrault and Oscar Tusquets Blanca, just to drop a name or two…) around stunning installations such as those by Karim Rashid at the Università station, Joseph Kosuth and Jannis Kounellis at Dante, Franco Scognamiglio and Maria Cristina Crespo at Augusto, Sol LeWitt at Materdei, and so on. It’s a far-reaching project initiated some 15 years ago and still ongoing. See to believe.

Now that’s an awful lot of art, and we haven’t even started on the museums.
Take the Madre, three whole floors of a grand 19th-century palazzo in the heart of historic Naples, redesigned by Alvaro Siza and devoted to contemporary arts. And another having the same calling, the Museo Nitsch. The Plart is one we’ve already had good reason to write about on Urban Italy. Avant-garde only at The Fondazione Morra Greco. And then there’s a mercurial exhibition space utterly transformed by whichever artist is showing: the Museo Apparente. And if you can take any more, there’s always the contemporary collection at the Capodimonte national museum.

On to the galleries?

Naples has some of the finest spaces, owners and dealers in the art business. Lia Rumma is a legendary Milanese gallerista who chose to open her second space right here. And of course Studio Trisorio with traditional and new media on the Riviera di Chiaia; Alfonso Artiaco where Jannis Kounellis, Sol LeWitt and Carl André have exhibited; Casamadre gallery; La Casaforte in the Spanish Quarter, a private/public space where Antonio Sacco, Valeria Borrelli and family live, work and host artists and shows; and others too numerous to list.

And that brings to mind a host of ateliers where we’ll find artists and designers on the job. Michele Iodice is an old friend, unmissable. But you might want to visit interior designer Franco della Femmina and photographers Luciano Ferrara and Luciano Romano. Or you could see installations (video and not) by Marisa Albanese,  the beautiful, recurring-motif panels painted by Sergio Fermariello, wall paintings by Mariangela Levita and just about anything from eclectic artist/designer Riccardo Dalisi. This is not an exhaustive list.

Now if this is beginning to sound exhausting, bear in mind that time-outs and refueling stops are allowed.

Retail downtime on the art&design theme could include checking out Idem for Marietta Tramontano’s gorgeous bags and other accessories, or E. Marinella for the finest neckties and tailoring, strictly Made in Naples. Or taking in fabulous design jewellery by Paola Grande or some home restyling ideas at La Casa Brutta, for example. Just let us know your ‘druthers’.

Refreshment with the arts in mind is available at Trip and Spazio Nea, while cooking is an art for Mario Avallone of La Stanza del Gusto. But enough: it’s a given that you’ll eat well in Naples, whatever you fancy, and your Naples Art&Design Tour guide is an expert.

  For information, reservations or special requests on routes dedicated to the city of Naples by Viaggi di Architettura.

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